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Call for Proposals for SPEC Survey Topics 2016—Deadline July 17, 2015

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ARL is seeking proposals for 2016 SPEC survey topics. For 40 years ARL has gathered and disseminated data through the SPEC survey program to assist libraries in the continuous improvement of their management systems. Each year, ARL works with librarians in the US and Canada to develop surveys of the ARL membership on strategic topics related to research library policies and practices. (Survey authors do not need to work at an ARL member library, but only ARL libraries are surveyed.)

There will be four SPEC surveys in 2016. Criteria for selecting a 2016 survey topic include its currency and insightfulness; its strategic importance to managing research libraries; its relevance to an ARL focus area or an ARL program promoting diversity, inclusion, and leadership; its relevance to the initiatives emerging from ARL’s strategic thinking and design process; and whether documents that illustrate current policies and practices can be gathered from survey respondents.

Examples of current areas of interest to research libraries that could fit the SPEC survey model include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordinated stewardship of collective collections
  • Workforce implications of new services
  • Inclusive design initiatives, of either spaces or services, involving participation of diverse, underrepresented communities
  • Creating and maintaining inclusive climates through staffing, collections, and programming
  • Non-traditional expertise among library professionals
  • Prevalence of disciplinary expertise among staff
  • Acquiring and managing new forms of scholarship
  • Data management
  • Innovations in engaging users with collections
  • Strategies for articulating value and impact of library services

Proposals should include the following elements and should be brief (two to five pages total):

  • A short bio of the author(s) indicating qualifications to carry out research on the proposed topic.
  • A brief overview of the topic with a discussion of why it is important to examine it at this time and a description of what you hope to learn from the survey data. Include a statement such as “The purpose of this survey is to…” (This text could be used to introduce the survey to respondents.)
  • A paragraph indicating the strategic relevance of the research topic to ARL members.
  • A list of the main categories of survey questions—reflecting your description of what you hope to learn—along with a sample question for each category.
  • A list of the types of supporting documentation you would request from survey respondents.

For consideration for 2016, submit proposals online by Friday, July 17, 2015. Proposals will be reviewed and authors of topics selected for the 2016 survey cycle will be notified by August 21, 2015.

Questions about the SPEC survey program and proposal development can be directed to Lee Anne George, publications program officer, at leeanne@arl.org.


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.